Opportunities Unlimited for the Blind/Birding by Ear

April 6th, 2013
Dearborn, MI

On April 6, from 10AM-4PM, join the Michigan Birdbrains in Dearborn, MI, to celebrate the wonderful array of bird species in southeastern Michigan! The Birdbrains are a group of youth and young adults who are blind or visually impaired and who have learned to identify and enjoy Michigan birds by sound rather than by sight.

All are welcome to join in the fun! If you are blind or visually impaired, this is a special treat, as the focus will be on what birds sound like, and not on what they look like. This event, which will be held at the University of Michigan Environmental Interpretive Center (EIC), 4901 Evergreen in Dearborn, Michigan, is sponsored by CUBs, the University of Michigan at Dearborn, and Opportunities Unlimited for the Blind.

Image from CBS news report courtesy of University of Michigan-Dearborn (Photo © CBS News)
Beginning at 10 AM participants will learn how to listen to and identify songs and calls of focus bird species, and then will travel the trails in the natural area surrounding the EIC and listen for birds which can be recognized by ear. After lunch participants will investigate how and why birds do what they do with activities like building their own nest out of natural and arts and crafts materials; planting a birdfeeder; gaining an understanding of auditory communication; learning about bird body parts like feathers, beaks and skulls and how their attributes affect the life history of each species in their environment. Finally, participants will become acquainted with bird banding to understand the migratory habits and health of local bird species–especially those of Michigan’s state bird, the American Robin.

By 4 PM, each participant will have lots of fun items to take home, and all will have a greater awareness of the lives of birds which inhabit our cities and enhance our lives with beautiful music. With educating and enabling blind and visually impaired youth to identify urban birds, the Birding by Ear group is opening the world to them in an area they previously may have thought reserved for the sighted. The Field Services Director of Opportunities Unlimited for the Blind, Donna Posont, told us, “By teaching them techniques for identifying urban birds much is accomplished, in addition to promoting an awareness of the natural environment. Confidence is gained by the youth in having skills of bird identification and also improved mobility skills from traveling trails in search of birds.”

So join the Birding by Ear group and Michigan Birdbrains for a great day of fun, listening and learning, and plan to arrive by 9:30 to register. If you can only come in the afternoon, you may register at 12:30. To reserve your spot, or for more information, please contact Donna Posont at 313-220-8140 or DPosont@umd.umich.edu.

Update: New media about this event is available!

CBS ran a story on the Birdbrains, and you can watch the report below:

They also ran an evening news piece that focused more on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Macaulay Library’s contributions to the group, available here.

Donna was also interviewed by Michigan Public Radio! You can listen to the radio interview by clicking on the photo below.

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